My daughter’s iPhone
Three years ago, I reluctantly bought my then-fifth-grade daughter her first cell phone.
We were new to the state and I didn’t have the comfort of known friends/neighbors to count on if a soccer practice ended early, or if I was running late to pick her up from school.
I broke with my own firm belief that no elementary schooler should need his or her own mobile phone.
But I made that rule when I was in a place I already knew how to get around in and a city my daughter knew well — and we had a big support system in place.
I remember feeling overwhelmed exploring all the available apps and trying to decide which ones I felt comfortable with.
Honestly, I didn’t really like that she could have the Internet at her fingertips. I’m not what you’d call a screen queen. (To this day, all the bedrooms in our house are free of computers and TVs.)
Well, this fall, my daughter started the eighth grade and I’ve discovered an appreciation for that iPhone that I never would have expected:
We’re always connected
I absolutely love being able to text my daughter when I know it’s been an especially rushed morning or if she’s worried about a big test that day.
If I was the one who was rushed — and just want a re-do — I can text her quickly to tell her I’m proud of her. And I can always send a text that tells her, “You can do it!” when she’s nervous about a test.
I’m also not afraid to admit, I’ve used our mobile connection to text-yell, too. (I can’t be the only one!) You know the message: I just saw your grade in bio. Why didn’t you turn that assignment in?
Also, maybe best of all, there are times she’s used her phone to ask me questions that maybe — face to face — would’ve otherwise been too hard for her.
And she’s even been known to ask me about my day if her friends aren’t on the bus.
Heroes in our midst
My girl’s an athlete. She’s both a soccer player and a ski racer in training. She loves to follow the players of both the WNST (Women’s National Soccer Team) and skier Lindsey Vonn. Because of her phone, she knows what her favorite sports stars like to eat for breakfast as well as some of their detailed workout schedules.
What she’s learned online has even played a role in how she approaches her commitment to her own sports.
When she was in elementary school, I would drag her along on light runs, telling her it would make her a better soccer player. She would be on the verge of tears, complaining of side aches.
Fast forward to age 13: She let me know, just last week: “I’d like to start running on the weekends; for me to keep up at soccer, I need to keep up my running; it will help my racing, too.”
Seeing her role models on social media has made it OK for her to be unlike the cover girls of Teen Vogue or Seventeen.
She likes seeing physically tough, strong women reaching their goals wearing ponytails, not mascara.
She’s isn’t comfortable with short jean shorts and stringy summer tanks. Her phone shows her that sport shorts and muddy ankles are OK. She can be herself.
My daughter has a better sense of time and scheduling, thanks to the phone in her pocket.
She’s aware of when her activities start and stop. On her own, she’s figured out how much time she needs to get ready in the morning and still feed the dog and make her lunch.
I don’t even have to tell her when to walk to the bus. She knows her schedule and keeps it on her own.
Her soccer team has an ongoing group text. They text each other what color of socks they’re wearing and to remind each other to remember their extra jerseys.
In the middle of those conversations, you can see them pumping each other up for their games as they ride in their separate cars to the soccer field.
I know there’s a lot that’s scary about cell phone usage and teens. But, in my family, it’s allowing my kiddo to grow up in ways I couldn’t have predicted a few years back.
And it doesn’t hurt that she can pull up a map for me on our drive to the soccer field — because sometimes, I’m still figuring out where I’m going.
Jennifer Wizbowski lives in Excelsior with her husband, and daughter and son, ages 13 and 15. Send comments, questions and story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.